How to make a Standalone Arduino

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OVERVIEW

Once you have your project working on a Arduino UNO and would like to make it permanent without sacrificing your Arduino UNO development board, it’s a good idea to just take the ATmega328 chip out and embed it on a breadboard or PCB.

 

Making your own Standalone Arduino is not just about saving money it’s also about using less power since you decide what components to include.

 

In this tutorial we will build 2 versions, one using the standard LM7805 voltage regulator and an other using a miniature switching power supply board.

 

Note:  There are many different ways to build a standalone Arduino, this tutorial is meant to show you 2 ways to achieve this.



SCHEMATIC

Here are the parts used in both version :

10uf electrolytic capacitors, 22pf ceramic capacitors

10K and 220Ohms resistors

16MHz crystal, tact switch and 3mm LED

Make your own Standalone Arduino

As you can see in the schematic above, we are using the popular LM7805 to regulate the power down to 5V.

 

The LM7805 is not the most efficient (approx. 55%), but if your project is connected to the grid, than this doesn’t really matter.

 

Make a Standalone Arduino

Now in this schematic we are using a more efficient (up to 96%) miniature switching power supply.

If using batteries this would save power and make your project last longer.

Also it requires less connections since all the component are included on the switching board, unlike the LM7805 that requires capacitors and jumpers.

 

We are using 2x 18650 Protected batteries of 3.7V and 4500mAh each.

Connected in series they will provide between 7.4 – 8.4V and have a capacity of 4500mAh.

Using Protected 18650 batteries is important to make sure that they don’t get over-discharged.



THE CODE

Now let’s see how much runtime we could theoretically get using each version.

Keeping in mind that these calculation would not reflect real life testing since battery life can fluctuate.

 

Here are some of the approx. results we got testing the different circuits running the “Blink” example:

Arduino UNO board:  Power consumption (55mA)

LM7805 Standalone: (24mA)

Switching Standalone: (12mA)

 

The power consumption of the Arduino UNO Dev board is quite high relative to our Standalone versions.

Using the UNO board, we would get approx. 81 hours of runtime.

 

So if we were to run both standalone versions on the same battery pack (2x 18650 at 4500mAh):

LM7805 version: Would run for approx. 185 hours.

Switching version: Would run for approx. 375 hours.

 

So we would gain approx. 190 hours of runtime using the switching power supply instead of the LM7805.

 

As always please watch our Tutorial video for more information.



TUTORIAL VIDEO



CONCLUSION

As you can see the Arduino UNO board on its own uses quite a bit of power, so building a standalone Arduino UNO makes sense once you have your project working and want to power it using batteries.

 

Many thing will influence the runtime:  number of sensors, Led’s, update intervals, etc… but using an efficient power regulator will save power that would have been lost otherwise, and for about 1 dollar more compared to using the LM7805, it kinda of makes sense.

 

Also keep in mind that there are many other ways to build a Standalone Arduino UNO, so as we always say:

 

Get Learning, and build your own,  “Your” way!

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